There’s a lot of good reasons for teens to engage in exercising regularly and stay fit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that students who are physically active tend to have better grades, that higher physical fitness levels are associated with improved cognitive performance, and that those who participate in physical activities have fewer disciplinary problems. Add to that the fact that they will be laying the foundation for a healthy lifestyle and creating great habits, and it’s a great deal all around. Yet many teens and their parents have questions about fitness that may be holding them back.
“The benefits of being a fit teen are plentiful, but it’s important to also know how to help reduce injury risks and stay motivated over the long haul,” explains Coach Sarah Walls, personal trainer and owner of SAPT Strength & Performance Training, Inc., who is also the strength and conditioning coach for WNBA’s Washington Mystics. “Being fit and healthy is more than just exercising, so it’s a good idea to learn more about what you need to do to be healthy all around.”
Here are 5 fitness tips every teen should read:
- Eat brain food. This is the good stuff, which is the unprocessed, whole foods, which include things like salads, poultry, lean meats, eggs, healthy fats, etc. Unprocessed foods are packed with vitamins and nutrients that will keep you sharp mentally and physically fit, too.
- Train to be more useful. Going to the gym to work on your “abs” and “beach muscles” is usually done with endless sit-ups and biceps curls, but you can get the same effect by training to be more athletic, faster, and generally more useful in life, which means working to get your entire body stronger. You can work with a personal trainer to put together a routine that meets these needs and goals that are tailored specifically for you.
- Go into Do Not Disturb mode. A big part of mental fitness is the ability to step away from the phone calls, texts, and Instagram feeds. Your mind will keep you feeling better when you walk away from those things more often. Take some time to go for a walk or spend time playing with your dog, as these kinds of things are good for your body and your mind.
- Appreciate that nothing happens overnight. When embarking on a fitness routine, it helps to celebrate the small victories that come with the little daily improvements. Yes, you may want to get a big bench press or increase your vertical jump by several inches – both are worthy pursuits, but both also take time and dedication. Learn to love the small changes and watch how they lead to meeting big goals.
- Beware of the changes. Fitness has changed a lot in 20 years, so be careful whose advice you take. There are plenty of well-intended coaches and parents who dole out advice that is at best antiquated and at worst downright dangerous. Listen to your body, ask questions, and seek out expert advice when you need it!